The Rank Group

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The Rank Group plc
Public
Traded as LSERNK
Industry Gambling
Predecessor Rank Organisation
Founded 1995
Headquarters Maidenhead, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Number of locations
152 (UK)
2 (Belgium)
10 (Spain)
Area served
Key people
Ian Burke
(Chairman)
Henry Birch
(Chief Executive)
Products Grosvenor Casinos, Mecca Bingo, enRacha, Top Rank España, Rank Interactive
Revenue £738.3 million (2015)[1]
£84.0 million (2015)[1]
£74.8 million (2015)[1]
Number of employees
10,629 (2016)[2]
Website www.rank.com

The Rank Group plc today is a British gambling company based in the United Kingdom. Rank was formerly involved in the cinema and motion picture industry until 2006, and continues to use the Gongman logo originally used by the Rank Organisation's film distribution subsidiary General Film Distributors. Its brands now include Grosvenor Casinos, the UK's largest casino operator.

Rank’s principal market and headquarters in the United Kingdom where it operates Grosvenor Casinos (56 casinos), Mecca Bingo (96 bingo clubs) and Rank Interactive (online gaming and betting), however it also operates additional Grosvenor Casinos clubs in Belgium (two casinos), and Top Rank España in Spain (10 bingo clubs).[3]

Rank is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

History[edit]

The company was formed to acquire the business interests of the Rank Organisation, which itself was formed out of the business interests of its founder, J. Arthur Rank.[4]

Until the start of the 21st century, the group still had a tremendous amount of leisure holdings; however, as the decade progressed it progressively divested these interests , beginning with Pinewood Studios[5] and the Odeon cinema chain.[6] It also divested its engineering interests, such as its share in Rank Xerox, selling Rank Leisure Machine Services to Gamestec plus all its Butlins, Warner and Haven Holidays holiday and recreation facilities, which were all sold to Bourne Leisure.[7]

The company then sold off its nightclub division, Rank Entertainment, as well as its interest in Universal Studios Florida, and disposed of the Rank film library to Carlton Communications, to which it had recently also sold the Rank Screen Advertising Film Division, which was latterly known as Cinema Media (now Digital Cinema Media).[8][9]

In early 2006, Rank sold Deluxe Film (formerly Rank Film Laboratories) for £400 million, effectively ended its 60 year association with the film and cinema business.[10] This meant Rank Leisure had become focused on gaming operations, with its remaining business interests concentrating on Grosvenor and G Casinos, Top Rank and Mecca Bingo, and online gaming through Rank Interactive, after the company acquired the Blue Square gaming business in 2003.[11]

Finally leaving all non-gaming leisure behind, in December 2006, Rank sold the Hard Rock business, excluding the London casino venue which was rebranded to G Casinos, to the Seminole Tribe of Florida for US$965 million.[12]

In May 2012, Rank agreed to purchase 23 casinos from Gala Coral for £205 million.[13] After the Competition Commission ruled that the deal would only go ahead if four venues were excluded, in March 2013 Rank agreed to purchase 19 casinos from Gala Coral for £179 million, making Rank the UK's largest casino operator.[14]

In April 2013, the group sold its Blue Square interactive gaming business, first launched in 1999, to Betfair.[15]

Operations[edit]

Grosvenor Casino and Mecca Bingo in Huddersfield

Grosvenor Casinos[edit]

Main article: Grosvenor Casinos

Established in 2007, Grosvenor Casinos (formerly County Clubs) is a UK-based chain of over fifty casinos located in major towns and cities across the UK with two sister casinos located in Belgium.[16]

In 2010, the group had an active membership of 1 million customers across their 35 UK clubs under the Grosvenor brand.[17]

In March 2013, Rank announced that it had conditionally agreed to purchase 19 Gala Casinos from the Gala Coral Group[18] in a £179 million deal. With the addition of these casinos and a further three non-operating licenses, Rank has become the largest casino operator in Great Britain, with 56 casinos.[14]

Mecca Bingo [edit]

Mecca Bingo (formerly called Top Rank) is a UK-based social and bingo club leisure company, with sites located in most major towns and cities across the UK.[19] The company operates meccabingo.com and meccagames.com as extensions of the Mecca Bingo brand.

As of July 2014, Rank has a deal with Evolution Gaming, a provider of a range of live dealer casino games, to offer its live dealer roulette services through Mecca Bingo. Roulette has generated a significant amount of revenue for the online bingo brand among the casino game offerings available on its website. Mecca Bingo’s success with roulette and Evolution Gaming’s reputation in the industry have made the partnership a practical one.

Mecca Bingo now offers players the ability to interact with a live dealer in the desktop and mobile app (iOS and Android) platforms instead of relying on a random number generator.[20]

Controversy[edit]

On 25 December 1997, many Muslims were angered that the name of their holiest city, Mecca, was also the name of a gambling company, as gambling is strictly forbidden in Islam. Bricks were thrown through windows at a Mecca Bingo hall in Luton, causing £3000 of damage. In a meeting held between community leaders and Mecca Bingo executives on 6 January 1998, Hazel Simmons, chairwoman of equal opportunities at Luton Borough Council, said, "We are aware of a groundswell of public opinion and I personally believe this to be insensitive in what is now a truly multicultural society." However, Mecca Bingo said that the name change from Top Rank was not insensitive and was part of a policy of bringing their nationwide chain of bingo halls under one name. Sergeant Peter Shepherd said, "It was unrealistic to expect that anything definite could be resolved at the meeting, but at least it was constructive to have the dialogue."[21]

enRacha[edit]

enRacha is Rank’s interactive Spanish gaming site launched in 2011. enRacha offers a wide range of Spanish card games, online slots, skill games and casino and poker games.[22]

Technology[edit]

In January 2015, Rank announced that it would move to a new technology platform supplied by Bede Gaming.[23] The public announcement said the rationale for the new platform is to give greater control, flexibility and speed in integrating third-party and retail content and functionality. The platform will integrate Rank's digital and land-based businesses to allow for a single view for the customer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Annual Report 2015" (PDF). The Rank Group. Retrieved 10 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Rank at a glance". The Rank Group. Retrieved 10 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "Rank Group Plc". The Rank Group. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Rank Group: Chronology
  5. ^ Rank sells UK's flagship Pinewood studios
  6. ^ Rank sells Odeon Cinema Chain to Cinven for £280m
  7. ^ "Rank set to sell Butlins resorts". This is Money. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Izatt, Janet (7 June 1996). "NEWS: Carlton Communications bids for Cinema Media". PRWeek. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "Key Carlton player to head Cinema Media marketing". Marketing Week. 1 November 1996. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Independent - 404". The Independent. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "UK Rank Buys Blue Square". casinocitytimes.com. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "BBC NEWS - Business - Seminole tribe in Hard Rock deal". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  13. ^ "Mecca Bingo owner Rank buys Gala casinos for £205m". BBC News. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  14. ^ a b "Rank agrees revised deal for Gala casinos". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  15. ^ "BRIEF-Rank sells Blue Square Bet business to Betfair". Reuters. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Grosvenor Casinos: Profile
  17. ^ "The Rank Group". GuidetoUKCasinos.com. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  18. ^ Gala Coral Group
  19. ^ Meccabingo: Profile
  20. ^ "Evolution Gaming’s Live Deal Roulette Available at Mecca Bingo". latestbingobonuses.com. 1 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Mecca bingo hall outrages Muslims". The Independent. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  22. ^ Spanish Network Launches
  23. ^ "Rank half yearly report". Investegate. 29 January 2015. 

External links[edit]